What is the true purpose of the church? This is something that has been on my mind for quite some time, and it has given me reason to pause. You may not agree with everything in this article, but again it is just something I can’t get off my mind so I wanted to share my thoughts.
I grew up in church and have spent most of my life in the church. I am deeply grateful for that experience.
The physical structure of the church, along with its many denominations, is all man-made. Man created Baptist, Methodist, Science of Mind, Pentecostal, Christian, Catholic and the many other names (labels) we use for our different religious organizations.
What makes one better than the other? Isn’t the message supposed to be the same?
These many different denominations, again all man-made have been used to divide us. They have caused wars. They have led to hate and not love with each individual religion thinking their way is the right way. What happened to the traditional biblical scripture “let every man work out his own soul salvation?”
Growing up in church, I can remember the church was run completely by servants. Every penny that came in through the offering plate went to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and clothe the poor. Not pay salaries for church employees. As a child, the pastor of my church had a full-time job. He pastored the church with no salary. It was a calling, not a job.
Fast-forward to now, when there seems to be a lot of energy spent on the whole money issue. I’ve noticed that 30 minutes of any given service is spent talking about money, how much is needed, and all the ways you can give your money. Then there are advertisements from the pulpit about all the things for sale such as classes, books, videos, and concerts as well as many different types of services offered.
For me, at times it makes it difficult to get the real message when it seems all I hear are the commercials.
Then of course there’s a little fear thrown in saying you will not be blessed unless you give. The church as a means of control uses fear. They further emphasize that fear by using biblical scripture to back it up. It is the same way they use fear to get you to believe exactly as they do or “you’re going to hell.” Is the purpose of the church to instill fear in its members?
With the move and focus towards mega churches, I have noticed church leaders are driving nice cars, flying private planes and living in mansions while many in their congregation are struggling. There is certainly nothing wrong with blessing others monetarily but have we gone too far?
I completely get it. My family and I used to travel and minister in churches all along the northeast when I was growing up. The churches we would minister in would take up a love offering to help us with our expenses. I am aware that it takes money to run the church. The question for me is, “Are we being good stewards of the money coming in through the offering plate?”
The church has been a great source of strength and inspiration for me in my life. However, I recently stopped attending where organized religions meet. It was my hope that the last one I attended would be different. I am grateful for my spiritual evolvement as a result of attending there, but I quickly learned that it too was a man-made religious organization where much of the offering was going to pay salaries with great focus on money and personal gain.
I remember attending there one Sunday and the whole band was missing except for the piano player. After service I asked her, “Where the rest of the band? She replied, “we could not afford to pay them this Sunday so they did not come.” Wow! They didn’t even attend the service. That stuck in my heart and saddened me to some degree.
Just think what the church could do with all the money paid out in salaries. How many more people could the church help? How much more could it fulfill its true purpose of serving those in need? Could those salaried positions be filled with people who just do it merely to be a blessing expecting nothing in return?
I have personally made a decision to give my money directly to those in need instead of having a portion of it going to pay salaries. I am a giver by nature and believe in the principal “You reap what you sow.” I am just learning to evaluate where my money goes. I want my giving to feed the hungry and be a blessing to those less fortunate. Giving back is essential.
I also finally came to realize that I do not need the physical structure of an organization to have a spiritual experience and deepen my walk with God (Spirit). I can wake up any morning and have a beautiful spiritual experience by taking a walk in the park, giving thanks, meditating, volunteering in my community, and/or just spending time in silence. I do not need to pay for that.
Has the church lost sight of its true purpose? I love the church, but I believe it should be a center that takes care of the community and those in real need. It should be a center that loves and welcomes ALL. I know there are actually still some churches out there doing just that. Abundant blessings to you. Perhaps I am thinking more about the ones who seem to have a different focus.
You are the church. I am the church.
We can each do our part to fulfill the true purpose of the church by:
- Reaching/Touching those in need
- Volunteering in the community
- Loving ALL those around us
- Being kind to ALL of God’s creation
Each individual can do that without belonging to an organized religion created by man. There is certainly nothing wrong with belonging to a church if that is what one chooses to do. Personally, I just found that a deep evaluation of my purpose was necessary.
My intent is not to be critical of the church but just to ask myself questions about my observation of the church. Do churches need to be multi-million dollar buildings with $60,000/month operating budgets? Or should they be more humble abodes filled with people ready to serve? Or should there be churches at all? Again we are the church. The building is not the church.
My sanctuary is inside of me.
Just my thoughts. I look forward to your feedback and as always I appreciate and love each of you.
Until next week